British intransigence causedfailure of EU summit: Chirac

22nd June 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 22 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac plunged Franco-British relations even lower on Wednesday when he laid full blame for the failure of last week's EU summit on "British intransigence," according to comments relayed by his spokesman.

PARIS, June 22 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac plunged Franco-British relations even lower on Wednesday when he laid full blame for the failure of last week's EU summit on "British intransigence," according to comments relayed by his spokesman.

"France did everything, with its partners, to arrive at an agreement. Unfortunately, British intransigence did not allow one to be reached," he was quoted as telling his government ministers in a weekly cabinet meeting.

The summit meant to lay out the EU's 2007-2013 budget collapsed last week after acrimonious exchanges between Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, both of whom demanded the other give up multi-billion-euro EU payments while insisting that their own were off-limits.

Chirac also told his ministers that he now intended to put social issues "at the heart of all European policies" and defended plans to push through French job-creation measures by government decree rather than parliamentary debate and legislation.

The 72-year-old French president has seen his popularity at home fall to near-record lows since voters rejected a referendum he proposed on adopting an EU constitution.

That 'no' vote led EU leaders to agree to put the ratification of the EU charter on hold.

In a bid to bolster his image and authority, Chirac has ordered his newly reshuffled government to make fighting unemployment its number one priority.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has presented a raft of measures that are to be passed by decree and implemented before French and parliamentary elections due in 2007.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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